The Be Zero Ambassador Program brings together like-minded people from around the globe with a common goal to inspire, educate, and activate communities on practical ways to improve the health and balance of our planet through the reduction of our individual trash and plastic footprint.
Our Be Zero Ambassadors are an amazing group of people and we want to share their insights on how they are moving towards a life with less waste and greater simplicity. We hope by sharing their stories you'll be able to find food for thought for your own life.
Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I’m Ryanne, originally born and bred in Montana. I currently reside in the southeast, on the border of Georgia and Alabama in Columbus. A fun fact about me…. My favorite activity at the moment is trail running! Every chance I get I head to the mountains.
What inspired you to become interested in the zero waste lifestyle?
During my Junior year of college as a Fashion student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, I had a period of what I would refer to as an awakening, where my naive self suddenly realized how materialistic and consumer driven our world was, and is. My values began to drastically shift as I was introduced to how polluting, wasteful, and socially irresponsible the fashion industry was, and continues to be. As an environmentalist, this lead me to dive deeper into how our planet is affected by the lifecycle of products and the aftermath of consumerism.
How do you define simplicity in your personal journey?
Simplicity is so often thought of as only an outward gesture to declutter life through elimination of things and unnecessary objects, yet I’ve realized that it’s much more than that. Throughout my personal journey, simplicity has not only become the choice of experiences over things and decluttering, but also an inward journey. It has become an act of calming the wants and desires within, that ultimately lead to dissatisfaction, and reminding myself that only the necessities matter. This has been a transformational struggle for me. When I’m present and grateful for the simple things, life is much more enjoyable. If I’m not able to change my mindset to simplicity on the inside, and simultaneously live a simple life on the outside, there is too much tension and disturbance present. I relate the thought process to the Law of Attraction - what you think you create.
What are the biggest challenges for creating less waste in your home and community?
After living in the southeast for almost 6 years, I think the biggest challenge my community faces is its inert pace of developing a more sustainable mindset altogether. For instance - restaurants continue to use styrofoam cups and take-out containers, plastic bags are used by the majority, residence rarely use their curbside recycle bins, and as of January 2015, Georgia has discontinued glass recycling.
My current work in the restaurant industry is a major challenge. I witness piles of trash accumulate daily. From uneaten food, to straws and unused napkins. Most restaurants in Columbus don’t even have a recycling system in place for workers or consumers - this is something I’m working towards implementing!
In terms of creating less waste in my home, I have found it difficult to buy unpackaged groceries, besides produce, without making multiple stops at different stores. There is only one small health food store within the area that offers bulk items. Otherwise, I have to stalk-up whenever I travel to bigger cities.
Another challenge I face involves the people I love. We do not all share the same values when it comes to environmentalism. The majority of my family continues to hold convenience as their priority. I have a difficult time positively encouraging them to change their habits because they simply don’t care.
What tools do you find indispensable in creating less waste?
One of the most important tools I find useful is the simple (or not so simple) act being confident enough in myself to not care what other people think as I live this process. Being able to politely say, “no thank you” to products and services I don’t agree with, and not taking judgmental looks personally is vital. I try to see these situations as an opportunity to educate and grow the movement.
In addition, I find resources such as blogs or articles to be extremely helpful in creating less waste. Some of my favorites besides Be Zero are: Going Zero Waste, Zero Waste Chef, Trash is for Tossers, Wasteland Rebel, Loam Magazine, and The Zero Waste Girl.
In terms of products that aid in waste reduction, my essentials include: reusable bags, reusable produce bags, glass jars, a set of reusable utensils, reusable napkins, a stainless steel straw, and stainless canteens.
To sustain without having bath or cleaning products accessible to me in bulk, I need: baking soda, coconut oil, borax, super washing soda, castile soap bars, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, cocoa butter, shea butter, and essential oils. If I purchase anything in glass, I try to reuse the bottle. Otherwise, I keep the glass until I travel to a destination that accepts glass to recycle.
What is the best advice you've received that supports your low-waste lifestyle?
Without a doubt, the best advice I have ever received is from Andrea Sanders, Be Zero’s Founder. She frequently reminds us as ambassadors how important positive activism is. I’ve caught myself multiple times judging others and forgetting to be tolerant towards their lifestyle and choices. She reminds us that everyone is learning and growing at their own pace, and that we must be understanding of that. Above all, sharing our lifestyle through a positive light and showing love towards each other is most important.